Child Custody is a term used frequently, but often misunderstood. Although the term is used by the Texas Family Code and in case law, it is generally a misnomer for the types of determinations desired in the vast majority of cases in which parents or others seek a “custody fight.” Often times these cases are referred to as SAPCR cases, being Suits Affecting the Parent Child Relationship.
In most cases, the issues at hand are Conservatorship, Possession, Access, and Residency. The days of one parent getting “custody” and the other parent being relegated to the status of a “second class citizen” with little or no access to their children is virtually unheard of, with proper legal advice and representation.
With the exception of reasonably extreme cases, parents are entitled to be designated as generally co-equal with virtually identical rights, responsibilities, and duties. The Texas Family Code states that there is a presumption that appointing the parents of a child as Joint Managing Conservators is in the best interest of the child.
The battle is usually over which parent will be designated in Primary Possession of the child or children. Although nothing is written in stone, generally speaking the parent in Primary Possession is normally the parent that receives Child Support, gets to claim the children as a deduction on taxes, and gets to determine the school which the children will attend.
Normally, the parent not in Primary Possession will be interested in seeking a Geographic Restriction or the domicile or residency of the Primary Possessor. Although geographic restrictions were all but unknown in decades past, it is now common for the court to place a restriction on the parent in primary possession which prevents him or her from moving the residency of the children to a county other than the one in which the case is filed or a contiguous county.
Although it is true that the non-primary possessing parent is generally entitled to possession of the children for approximately 45% of the time, when considered on an annual basis, in deciding how to proceed in a case, one needs to consider the effect of a 10% swing in possession. The difference between 45% (non-primary) and 55% (primary) is 10%. Ten percent of a year is approximately 36 days. For a child that is six years old at the time of divorce, the difference in being the primary or non-primary parent means the difference in over one entire year of the child’s life.
Nothing is more important in your case than your children. You need an attorney that cares about you, your children, and your case. As with any case, it is also important to have an attorney familiar with the court and judge for whom we have been before, so whether it is Tarrant County, Hood County, Johnson County, Somervell County, Erath County, or Parker County you can have confidence to know that our office handles a multitude of cases in these courts.